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ILLUMINATE is the Recipient of OCU's CAIRS Undergraduate Research Grant


Associate Professor Kate Brennan and undergraduate BFA candidate Avery Bruce have been awarded Oklahoma City University's 2020 CAIRS Undergraduate Research Grant to remotely develop Illuminate, a new type of distance learning musical theatre piece.

Each year, Oklahoma City University awards the CAIRS (Creative Activity, Inquiry, Research, and Scholarship) Research Grant to a professor and undergraduate student team to promote "critical thinking, creativity, and the ability to think holistically and across disciplines of study." Summer 2020 delineated the additional criteria of remote collaboration in light of the pandemic.

Illuminate is the final installment of The Infinity Trilogy created by Kate Brennan and David Lee White. The first two musicals of the Brennan & White Trilogy, ALiEN8 and Clean Slate, were conceived with McCarter Theatre Center and had subsequent workshops with Ignition Arts. ALiEN8 premiered at Drexel in Fall 2019 as part of the Mandel Professionals in Residence Program; Clean Slate was last developed with Ignition Arts at Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma.

In an effort to be digitally deliberate, Illuminate will explore a new collaborative form Ignition Arts is calling Myriodrama. Based on the idea of old children's myriorama cards, the Myriodrama consists of a collection of scenes and songs that can be assembled in any order, with any number of ensemble members, and shared in any medium - via video, audio, or even in person adhering to social distancing.

Kate Brennan is writing the music and lyrics to the piece; Avery Bruce will produce and provide soundscape for the endeavor.

Student Avery Bruce says the process is "a leap into the dark. I've learned so much about how to collaborate virtually. We've had the opportunity to play off of one another's creativity to mold a piece that truly has a part of each of us. It's been a wonderful, rare opportunity to allow the creative mind to run freely alongside the creative team and cast."

The Original Ensemble is currently rehearsing from 14 states with representatives from Drexel University, Oklahoma City University and beyond. The Original Ensemble includes: Kelsey Bray (CA), Avery Bruce (AR), Josh Goldhaber (PA), Erik Hamilton (TX), Michael Jobe (OK), Caroline Juelke (PA), Jordan Kilgore (MD), Maddy Larkin (NJ), Lisi Levy (MO), Brennan Malone (PA), Kat Metcalfe (OK), DeMond Nason (NY), Alyssa Peters (TX), Zachary Prall (NE), Corinne Prudente (CT), Caroline Pugliese (CA), Madeline Statter (MD) and Andrea Strickler (KS).

Ignition Arts is accepting inquiries for future development of Illuminate from Universities, high schools and other arts organizations looking for digitally deliberate material moving forward into Fall 2020. Inquire here for more information.

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